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February 7, 2013 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Joe Samson, the tight-jeans-and-beanie-wearing frontman for Cauldron Point, took the stage at The Bridge with his Gibson Les Paul and saw a crowd uncertain of what to expect.
Cousin Michael Summers started jamming out funky bass lines, and before long, brother Avery Samson was slamming the drums with his shirt off and the Goonies tattoo on his left arm bobbing up and down with the beat.
Representing Marshall, Cauldron Point is composed of the Samson brothers, Joe, 24; and Avery, 30; and their cousin Michael Summers, 27. They’re like a post-hardcore version of The Avett Brothers with a cousin.
The trio has played together and apart in a number of bands, but things seem to be going well with the current lineup. Cauldron Point’s debut, Live Without Wings, released on June 29, 2012.
The trio has been playing together since they hit puberty. Back then, they had a family cover band called Perplexia. Traveling in a little school bus, they’d cover songs from alternative acts such as Incubus, Story of the Year and Blink-182. Eventually, they wanted to write their own songs. Cauldron Point is the modern iteration of that early dream.
At a show at The Bridge in early December, the band showcased a skilled and honed sound reminiscent of early Thursday and complete with heavy distortion, delay, loops, melodic guitar and a literary focus on the lyrics.
Onstage, the guys let loose and have fun, but when it comes to the music, they’re serious. “We don’t really try to do the popular thing like sing about girls or sing about parties or sing about making money,” Joe says. “We sing about real things.” On the first track, “Brought Jesus in Like a Bar of Soap,” he screams in existential angst, “We’re just animals with minds that trick us into thinking we’re not.”
The producer of Live Without Wings, Mike McDonough, saw this honesty in the group as well. The band recorded the majority of the album in his basement in Olathe, Kan., which is a portable recording studio, including lava lamps, candles and black light feng shui.
“A lot of the bands nowadays will mimic other people a lot, and (Cauldron Point are) just themselves,” McDonough says. “They’re really transparent in the way that they write. They’re staying true to themselves and what they love.” He says the band goes for a raw, authentic sound — minus all the Melodyne and Auto-Tune, integrity-disintegrating whistles.
That integrity has been a natural progression. Avery says it’s been especially cool to see his little brother grow as a musician. After bugging his parents for a guitar, Joe practiced nonstop. Music was and is what he really wants to do. “It’s kind of insane to see him go from nothing to being really, really good,” Avery says. He’s a little biased, but it’s still an awesome feeling for a big brother.
Joe doesn’t plan to leave the music game anytime soon. He doesn’t mind what else he has to do to stay afloat work-wise as long as he can play music. “(The music business) is a marathon,” he says. “You don’t want to sprint toward the finish line.”